Much is being made of the deportation policies of the Trump Administration, with much of the TV news showing example of many people suddenly being deported after having been here for decades, families ripped apart, and a lot of people that have had no run ins with the law whatsoever, even business owners, people married to US Citizens, and people that may be here illegally, but are paying taxes and are productive members of society and the communities they live in…all being deported suddenly under the “crackdown and tough policies of President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security”. Conservatives and Trump supporters by and large cheer the actions, saying it is about time. Liberals will scream about how unfair all of this is, and how we are a nation of immigrants. Who’s right?
Well, there is little doubt that the current administration’s approach certainly has the appearance of being “tougher” than that of the Obama Administration. Much like the “security” guys on that United Airlines flight this past week, they certainly looked “tough” as they dragged a 69 year old man off the plane, but simply looking tough for the sake of looking tough, doesn’t mean much if the numbers don’t back it up. In the end, data doesn’t lie, and in spite of appearances so far, the only real conclusion here is that in spite of the appearance of toughness Trump is no tougher than Obama was. He may be more inhumane, and he may be more illogical as the sorts of anecdotal stories I mentioned above may seem to indicate, and with all of the rhetoric of Jeff Sessions, our new AG, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing this administration is making good on its promise to be so much tougher than Obama on illegal immigrants.
We have seen Sessions make a number of public speeches at the border and elsewhere, talking a really tough sounding game. The administration has proposed a budget with a significant increase in funding to the Department of Homeland Security, while simultaneously cutting the budget of other law enforcement agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. They also fired the US Attorney in Southern Manhattan with no notice, and no replacement or transition planned, in spite of the fact that he was in the midst of multiple Wall Street and other white collar crime investigations, setting those back. This is just a personal opinion, but I am going to guess that the damage caused to the average American is much more severe when they suddenly find themselves upside down on their home, can’t afford their mortgage all of a sudden, or when they see their 401(k) tank because of another Wall Street money grab than it is if there is an illegal immigrant working in the kitchen of a restaurant in their neighborhood, or even if they steal something from them, but again, that is just a matter of opinion, so let’s get back to facts.
In February 2017, the first full month of Trump’s presidency, 17,226 people were removed from US soil, 52% of whom (9,032 people) were convicted criminals, according to ICE. During the same period last year, under the Obama administration, 17,606 people were deported, 60% of whom (10,509 people) were convicted criminals.
Among those people ICE, under Trump has apprehended some truly dangerous people, there is no argument there. It’s what ICE is supposed to be doing. What I am arguing however, is that he is accomplishing no more than President Obama did, when he was referred to as the “Deporter-in-Chief” by groups like La Vas. Maybe that will change as we go forward under Trump, but so far, comparing apples to apples, Trump hasn’t even deported as many people overall as Obama and a fairly significant lower percentage of those people are actually convicted criminals.
For me, I would like to hear less bluster and tough talk, and see actual results that truly make things better in this country. I am tired of hearing false comparisons between Trump and Obama because people actually believe what they hear, no matter how inaccurate they are. I would also like to see some attention paid to the screwed up process we currently have to allow people to come here legally, and become a legal, functioning member of our society if this is where they want to be. Yes, they should be vetted, and we should keep criminals out. That’s not a Conservative or Liberal idea, it’s a logical idea that makes sense. Unfortunately, our government has a long track record of 100+ years where little has made sense with how we decide who gets in and who is illegal when they sneak in, and we keep spending billions of dollars to fix what our broken system caused in the first place.